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Body of missing 59-year-old man found in Riverside

Written By kolimtiga on Minggu, 09 November 2014 | 12.56

Riverside police found a body in a dirt field Saturday afternoon that was later identified as that of a missing 59-year-old man.

The remains of Dennis Guthaus, of Riverside, were found near Alta Cresta Avenue and Van Buren Boulevard, police said.

Police said Guthaus had Parkinson's disease and had been reported missing the day before.

No foul play is suspected.

Twitter: @LATChrisGoffard

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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Americans Bae and Miller, freed by North Korea, back in U.S.

Two Americans detained in North Korea were freed and brought home to the United States on Saturday, the result of a surprising move by the reclusive nation that may signal a shift in its approach to the United States.

The men — Matthew Todd Miller, 25, of Bakersfield, arrested in April, and Kenneth Bae, 46, of Lynnwood, Wash., held since 2012 — landed Saturday night at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, near Tacoma, Wash., accompanied by James R. Clapper, the director of national intelligence.

 "We're very grateful for their safe return," President Obama said at the White House, thanking Clapper for succeeding in "a challenging mission" to help bring about the release of the men.

The sudden announcement came hours before Obama was to head to Asia for a weeklong trip, starting with a stop in China, North Korea's most important ally.

The U.S. has no direct diplomatic relations with North Korea. Sending Clapper, the nation's top intelligence official, on a secret mission to the country was highly unusual. He had been scheduled to speak at the Council on Foreign Relations on Wednesday in New York, but the appearance was abruptly canceled.

The North Koreans apparently had rejected unofficial envoys who had sought to intervene for the Americans. In 2009, President Clinton made a secret trip for the release of American women held there.

The demand by the government in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, for a high-level representative was perhaps to provide an opportunity for relaying a message to Washington.

"As a sitting government official, it's entirely plausible to imagine that if the North Koreans chose to send other messages, he would be capable of transmitting them," Scott Snyder, a senior fellow for Korea studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, said of Clapper.

"But in no way does that signal on the U.S. side that the U.S. will begin to engage in a broader dialogue," Snyder said.

The North Koreans have come under enormous pressure over a report circulating at the United Nations on alleged human rights violations and crimes against humanity in the tightly closed country, Snyder said. They have engaged in an "unprecedented" mobilization in recent weeks to tamp down further consideration of the report by international officials, and the release of the Americans appears to be a continuation of that.

"The United States has long called on [North Korean] authorities to release these individuals on humanitarian grounds," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. "We join their families and friends in welcoming them home."

North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un, recently appeared in public for the first time in weeks after apparently suffering a medical ailment. Shortly after he resurfaced, another detained American, Jeffrey Fowle, was released, renewing hope that Bae and Miller would be freed as well.

The two American men had been detained in North Korea under different circumstances, though both cases point to the nation's sensitivity to threats to its authority.

Bae, an American evangelist, was arrested and charged with "hostile acts against the state" in 2012 in the North Korean city of Rason. He was serving a 15-year hard labor sentence, and U.S. officials were concerned about his health. He was transferred this year from a hospital to a prison labor camp.

Bae's sister, Terri Chung, said in a statement Saturday that she was contacted by the State Department early in the day and told that her brother and Miller had just left North Korean airspace and were heading to the United States.

"I am thrilled to imagine hugging my brother soon. He will not have to spend another day at a labor camp," she said. "He can now recover from this imprisonment and look forward to his wife, kids and rest of his life. Our Thanksgiving celebration this year will be one we will never forget."

Miller was sentenced in September to six years of hard labor after acknowledging that he had ripped up his tourist visa when he entered the country at the Pyongyang airport in April.

North Korea's state-run news agency said last month that Miller had been a student in Seoul, the South Korean capital, and deliberately sought to get arrested in the North as part of an elaborate plan to meet another American imprisoned in the country, negotiate for his release and ultimately expose "the human rights situation" in the country.

The state news agency's accounts, which were not independently verified, suggested that Miller had written that he sought to disclose information "like Snowden," referring to former U.S. government contractor Edward Snowden, who exposed details of secret U.S. surveillance programs last year.

But in another account, Reuters reported last month that Miller had told people in Seoul that he was a British citizen working on an anime adaptation of Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland," and that he appeared "awkward" and "mysterious."

Miller's family has not spoken publicly about his situation. Those who knew him growing up in California's Central Valley have said he seemed to be a typical child.

The two men were the last Americans known to be detained in North Korea. Previous efforts to free them had failed, making their release something of a surprise.

The administration's foreign policy critics on Capitol Hill were slow Saturday to weigh in on the release as news of the circumstances trickled out of the unannounced mission.

For the Obama administration, "it was probably the least unsatisfactory option for securing the release of these individuals," Snyder said. "If this is what it takes to get these people out, they're holding their nose and doing it."

Times staff writer Javier Panzar in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times

9:13 p.m.: This post was updated with their arrival in the U.S.

8:34 p.m.: This post has been updated throughout.

11:20 a.m.: This post has been updated with a statement from Kenneth Bae's sister.

9:12 a.m. This post has been updated with details about the detained Americans and comments from President Obama and the State Department.

This post was originally published at 7:33 a.m. PST.

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MLS Playoffs: Red Bulls advance despite loss

Peguy Luyindula scored his second playoff goal in as many games and the New York Red Bulls advanced to the Eastern Conference finals despite a 2-1 loss to D.C. United on Saturday at Washington.

The Red Bulls advanced 3-2 on aggregate after winning the first leg 2-0 last Sunday on goals from Luyindula and Bradley Wright-Phillips.

Nick DeLeon scored in the first half and Sean Franklin added a late goal for United, which exits the playoffs in the semifinals despite winning the Eastern Conference regular-season title.

The Red Bulls advanced past the round of eight for the first time in five attempts and won their first playoff series against D.C. United in five meetings.

Luyindula scored in the 57th minute, hitting a first-time volley of Thierry Henry's cross to give the Red Bulls a commanding advantage. New York's Roy Miller received a red card in the 78th minute.

DeLeon headed in Taylor Kemp's cross from close range in the 36th minute, and Franklin scored in stoppage time.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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J.T. Barrett leads Ohio State in win over Spartans

EAST LANSING, Mich. — J.T. Barrett threw for three touchdowns and ran for two, and No. 14 Ohio State got past No. 8 Michigan State, 49-37, Saturday night.

The Buckeyes (8-1, 5-0 in Big Ten Conference) avenged their loss to Michigan State in last year's conference title game, and boosted their case for a berth in college football's four-team playoff.

The Spartans (7-2, 4-1) probably will drop out of contention.

Barrett, who became the starting quarterback before the season because Braxton Miller needed shoulder surgery, completed 16 of 26 passes for 300 yards.

Ohio State's first drive ended in a missed field-goal try and another early possession fell apart because of penalties. After that, the Buckeyes scored a touchdown every time they had the ball until they punted in the final minute of the game.

Ohio State rolled up 568 yards against a Michigan State defense that was one of the nation's best a year ago and had been good enough to keep the Spartans in the playoff conversation heading into this showdown.

Michigan State led, 21-14, when Ohio State's Dontre Wilson fumbled a kickoff, giving the Spartans a chance to extend their lead in the second quarter. But a holding penalty wiped out a Michigan State touchdown, and the Spartans eventually missed a field-goal try.

On Ohio State's next offensive play, Barrett found Michael Thomas for a 79-yard catch-and-run touchdown that tied it, 21-21. Then Barrett threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to Devin Smith to put Ohio State ahead with 56 seconds left in the half.

After a Michigan State field goal to start the third quarter, Ohio State marched 67 yards in 13 plays, and Ezekiel Elliott's one-yard touchdown run made it 35-24. Barrett found Wilson for a seven-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter to give the Buckeyes an 18-point lead.

Jeremy Langford ran for 137 yards and three touchdowns for Michigan State, which gained 536 yards and did not have a turnover.

Ohio State is 21-0 in Big Ten regular-season games under Coach Urban Meyer.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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L.A. City Council approves firefighter raises

Written By kolimtiga on Sabtu, 08 November 2014 | 12.56

The Los Angeles City Council voted Friday to give a 2% pay increase to the city's firefighters next summer, along with increases in taxpayer support for healthcare and dental benefits.

The unanimous vote provided one of the few bright spots for Mayor Eric Garcetti and the council in its labor negotiations, as talks with other employee unions have deteriorated.

The contract with United Firefighters of Los Angeles City Local 112 is expected to cost the city an additional $13.5 million in the fiscal year starting July 2015, when a 2% salary hike takes effect. But the cost could grow depending on the outcome of salary negotiations with the Police Protective League, which represents rank-and-file police officers.

If LAPD officers receive raises or increased health benefits between now and June 2016, firefighters will be provided the same increases, according to the terms of the two-year contract. That provision is designed to ensure that there is parity in salaries and benefits between the agencies, said Frank Lima, the firefighter union president.

Firefighters received the latest pay boost because they were earning 2% less than police in comparable positions. "All we wanted to do was just come up and be equal with them, not more," said Lima, adding: "If they get a 1% raise, then we get it as well."

L.A. firefighters currently have an annual starting salary of $59,382, while captains in the department have a starting pay of $107,824, according to city budget officials. Neither figure includes bonuses that are provided for various levels of expertise and experience.

Contracts with most of the city's unions expired last summer. Since then, managers have filed unfair labor practices complaints against several civilian city unions. Meanwhile, the Police Protective League contends it is at an impasse with Garcetti and council members. One police union leader called a recent city salary offer "insulting."

Garcetti said the contract with firefighters is "responsible" and "respects the bravery of our firefighters and the budget realities we face." Councilman Paul Krekorian, who heads the council's budget committee, praised the union for taking a "practical, problem-solving approach" to the contract talks.

"This is an example of how the city can work together with its labor partners in order to ensure public safety, to ensure fair treatment of our employees, and to ensure fiscal responsibility at the same time," Krekorian said.

As part of the agreement, the city's health insurance subsidy will grow 5% in July 2015, to $1,227. The city's monthly dental subsidy of $74.16 will be increased twice — 2.5% this year and 2.6% next year.



Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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L.A.'s not-quite 'subway to the sea' finally breaks ground

More than 30 years ago, officials promised that Los Angeles' first modern subway would cut through the congested and heavily populated Wilshire Corridor connecting downtown to the city's coastal suburbs.

Now, after decades of delay over safety and environmental concerns, court battles and congressional debate, construction is finally beginning on the first phase of what former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa promoted as the "Subway to the Sea."

But the multibillion-dollar Purple Line extension celebrated by political leaders at a Friday groundbreaking won't fully deliver on past promises. The line will most likely end at the Veterans Administration hospital in Westwood, miles from the ocean. And even if all goes well, getting that far will take an additional 20 years.

Still, many planners and public officials said the region would finally realize benefits of what should have been L.A.'s highest mass transit priority.

Wilshire Boulevard "is the most promising corridor in Los Angeles for rail rapid transit. It has always ranked at the top" and is long overdue, said Martin Wachs, a former transportation expert at the Rand Corp. now at UCLA.

During ceremonies at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, local, state and federal officials predicted that the first 3.9-mile, $2.8-billion leg of the new line will accelerate a regional transportation renaissance, adding an important incentive to lure commuters from their cars.

"This is a historic day for the Westside, which has not been served by rail transit since the Pacific Red Cars," said Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, a member of Metro's board. "This is the right corridor in the right place and, hopefully, at the right time."

The initial section of tunnel will carry passengers from a station at Wilshire and Western Avenue, near downtown, to La Cienega Boulevard in the Miracle Mile, once a symbolic hub of L.A.'s car culture.

Stations will be included at La Brea Avenue and Fairfax Avenue. Two later phases are expected to push the line five additional miles to Westwood at a cost of at least $3.5 billion.

Although Villaraigosa and other elected officials talked of a "subway to the sea," that proved to be more slogan than reality. Metro officials have stressed that extending the Purple Line to the coast would add billions of dollars to the line's cost.

Instead, Marc Littman, a Metro spokesman, said the Expo light-rail service, which parallels the subway route, eventually will reach Santa Monica, with a stop a few blocks from the beach.

The first Purple Line segment is being financed with a $1.2-billion grant and an $856-million loan from the federal government. The balance will come from Measure R, the county's voter-approved half-cent sales tax for transportation projects.

When the entire subway is completed, officials say riders will get from downtown to Westwood in about 25 minutes and gain easy access to many Mid-City and Westside residential areas, commercial centers and cultural attractions.

The Purple Line is expected to boost average weekday ridership on the subway system by more than a third, to about 215,000 daily boardings.

"This will help people get to where they need to go, cut traffic and boost the economy," said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Progress on the subway extension came to a halt in the mid-1980s after methane gas leaked from the ground and exploded in a Fairfax clothing store.

The blast contributed to a 22-year delay of the project, after the area's congressman, Rep. Henry Waxman, sponsored successful legislation banning the use of federal money for the subway's western extension.

Ultimately, a team of tunneling and transportation experts concluded that the line could be safely built because of improvements in boring machines and construction techniques. Waxman won a repeal of the funding ban in 2007.

Brian Taylor, a transportation expert and urban planning professor at UCLA, said that despite improvements in tunneling, construction of the line will be complicated by webs of utility lines, old oil fields, pockets of gas and seismic conditions.

He also questioned whether the $600-million- to $700-million-a-mile cost of the Purple Line could benefit more people if it were spent elsewhere on less expensive transit improvements.

Though officials say the Purple Line will reduce Westside traffic, the project's environmental analysis indicates there will be only limited relief on Wilshire and nearby surface streets and little or no relief for the area's freeways.

Metro officials argue that traffic relief will occur as more subway and light-rail lines are added and linked together, making longer, single-train trips possible.

At Friday's ceremonies, Santa Monica Mayor Pam O'Connor predicted the Westside subway will encourage a significant shift away from the automobile.

"If the car is king of L.A.," she said, "then the Purple Line will be the queen of L.A."

O'Connor added that she remained optimistic about the project reaching the coast. "I'm still hopeful about the subway to the sea," she said. "Maybe after 2035."


Follow @LADeadline16 for transportation news

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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Future of Bob Baker's puppet theater, once an L.A. icon, is uncertain

The boxy white building with weathered paint in Echo Park offers few clues that colorful, fanciful puppets dance inside.

For more than half a century, the Bob Baker Marionette Theater has entertained children, as it did on a recent Friday when small boys and girls ignored their parents' smartphones to marvel and giggle as puppets rested on their laps or flew toward their faces.

"It's an art," said Molly Damecourt, 37, who came to the theater for the first time with her toddler son, Pruitt, on Halloween morning. "In the age of technology it's nice to have something that is so hands-on."

But with the theater's lease ending next March, the building's owner, Eli Elimelech, has drawn a blueprint that is more in keeping with changes in the trendy neighborhood — while preserving the spartan-looking little building that Baker's marionettes call home.

To do this, Elimelech will design his mixed-used development to wrap around the theater, saving much of the existing structure. It's an unusual approach, but necessary since the theater was designated a historic cultural landmark by the Los Angeles City Council in 2009.

The designation gives the building — or at least its architectural shell — a protected status. Less clear is the future of the performances, which are the reason the otherwise unremarkable building is considered special.

Tentatively named Marionette Square, Elimelech's new complex would span over much of the existing building. The development would hold about 100 apartments, as well as a strip of commercial space for retailers, according to Steve Albert, the project architect. Between 5 and 10% of the units would be reserved for affordable housing.

Elimelech says he isn't sure when he will begin building. The 90-year-old Baker, who is in hospice care, can no longer tend to his puppets, but the puppeteers plan to put on shows for as long as they can.

"I just want to have the plan ready for the building," Elimelech said. "The theater will still be operating. It is still surviving."

But, he said, he doesn't know how much longer a theater that has been struggling financially for years can keep the curtains from coming down.

New developments like Marionette Square are emblematic of the changes rolling through Echo Park, fueling concerns over gentrification in the area. Young college graduates continue to flow in, pushing out working-class immigrant families. The neighborhood's immigrant population has dropped nearly 15% since 1990, according to 2010 Census figures.

Elimelech's project was made possible because of the theater's decline.

Once the theater's lease ends, it will transfer to a month-to-month agreement, making for a tentative existence. Baker's business has been strained for years, burdened by late mortgage payments and taxes. Last year, the theater property was sold to Elimelech for about $1.5 million.

In October, the Cultural Heritage Commission's president, Richard Barron, asked whether the landmark is worth preserving without its puppets or famed shows.

The theater, he said, was not a landmark because of its architecture, but because of the artistry that took place inside and Baker's contribution to the city's entertainment industry.

"I want to see if there is a better way to give a better legacy to this man who contributed all his work for years and years," Barron said. "It was a sad, sad thing to think of a dusty lobby with a picture of Bob Baker in it. It brought tears to my eyes."

The commission plans to hold another meeting to discuss whether it is possible to create a space within the complex for the puppet shows to continue. Both Albert and Elimelech say they are willing to work with the commission to redesign the plans.

"We plan on using some area with puppetry as its theme," said Albert, whose resume includes mixed-use apartment complexes throughout Los Angeles. "There may be an area where people who want puppet shows can carry on that tradition."

Elimelech and Albert have been asked to estimate how much renovations would cost, both with and without preserving the theater's architecture. The commission will determine whether it is possible to create an endowment or nonprofit organization to help fund the performances.

About 35 people trickled into the theater Halloween morning for the Hoop-De-Doo puppet show. Sheri Watson bought her ticket after hearing that the theater might close.

"If we lose this place, we would be losing an L.A. icon," Watson, 55, said. "It reminds me of animals that become extinct. Once they're gone, they're gone for good."

Dante Ruiz first stepped into the Bob Baker Marionette Theater nearly 20 years ago. He remembers running the old lighting system when he was first hired, working his way up to puppeteering under Baker's guidance. He was nervous the first time around, operating a lone Indian boy marionette during a Christmastime show.

Now, Ruiz plays a much bigger role in the production, controlling marionettes of all shapes and sizes. As he packs up and leaves the emptied theater after the show, Ruiz says he would do anything to keep Bob Baker's marionettes going.


Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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Marines mark 10th anniversary of fight for Fallouja

Jim Simpson's son, Marine Lance Cpl. Abraham Simpson, was killed on the third day of the 46-day fight for control of Fallouja, Iraq, in 2004.

"My son was a devout Christian," Simpson said after an emotional ceremony Friday attended by hundreds of Marines, former Marines and family members on the 10th anniversary of the beginning of the second battle of Fallouja.

"He believed God would take care of him and if he died he would be going to a better place," Simpson said. "We know he's in that better place now."

Simpson's wife, Maria, said she is untroubled by the fact that Fallouja is now controlled by Islamic State militants.

The Iraqi army has been unable to hold Fallouja and other areas of Anbar province since the U.S. left in 2011. The U.S. is rushing military trainers to Iraq in hopes of improving the Iraqi security forces.

"Our son wasn't doing this for politics," Maria Simpson said. "We know he was doing the right thing at the right place at the right time."

By late December 2004, when the battle was over, 82 Marines and U.S. soldiers had been killed and more than 560 wounded. Eight Marines were awarded the Navy Cross for bravery, second only to the Medal of Honor.

A heavily armed insurgent force in Fallouja had been routed and the path cleared for an election in January, the first since Saddam Hussein had been toppled.

When recruits arrive for boot camp in San Diego or Parris Island, S.C., they are quickly tutored on Marine battles of the past: Belleau Wood, Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, Chosin Reservoir, Khe Sanh, and, now, Fallouja.

For Marines, Fallouja was the bloodiest, most prolonged fight since Hue City in Vietnam. Marines fought street to street, attacking buildings where heavily armed insurgents were barricaded.

Although historians will have the final say, odds are strong that, of all the battles fought by Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan, the fight in Fallouja will be the most remembered.

About 6,500 Marines and 1,500 soldiers fought in Fallouja, backed by British and Iraqi forces and 2,500 U.S. sailors in support roles. Insurgent casualties are estimated at 1,200 to 1,500, with an additional 1,500 taken prisoner.

"We did our job and we did it damn well," said Maj. Gen. Lawrence Nicholson, commander of the 1st Marine Division. "We took that city away from the enemy."

The keynote speaker at the ceremony was retired Marine Lt. Gen. Richard Natonski, who was the division's commander during the Fallouja battle. "Recent events in the Middle East have been very disappointing, disheartening," he told the assemblage.

But that should not lessen the pride Marines have in what they accomplished in Fallouja, he said.

Clint Thoma agreed. He was a mortar specialist as the U.S. fired thousands of mortars at enemy positions before victory was proclaimed and the city was declared safe for civilians to return.

"I still feel proud about what we did," Thoma said.

So do others, even though they prefer not to discuss the days of killing. "It was bad," said Greg Judie, who was a machine-gunner. "I don't talk about it."

Andy Knava, who was part of a combat engineer battalion, said he does not follow events in Iraq. He came to the ceremony to be with buddies with whom he served in Fallouja.

"It just feels good to be back with friends," said Knava, who was wearing a T-shirt with a likeness of Marine legend Lt. Gen. Chesty Puller.

The ceremony was replete with quotations from James Michener, Tennyson, and, of course, "band of brothers" from Shakespeare's "Henry V."

Natonski chose a quote often attributed to George Orwell about people being able to sleep soundly because rough men are awake to protect them.

"I want to thank the rough men who were in Fallouja 10 years ago," he said.


Twitter: @LATsandiego

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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Pinup video on military base raises eyebrows in Utah

Written By kolimtiga on Jumat, 07 November 2014 | 12.56

The girlie video was intended as pure cheesecake. But for Jennifer Seelig, it was more like a horror flick.

Seelig, minority leader in the Utah House, learned of the controversial footage last month as she boarded a flight to Washington. While in the air, she watched the risque "behind the scenes" advertorial to promote a 2015 Hot Shots pinup calendar produced in Britain.

The video, which was shot in May, shows busty models in tight pants and bikinis firing automatic weapons as they cavort on U.S. military equipment at a U.S. military installation helpfully guided by members of the U.S. military.

"All I could say while watching was: 'Oh. My. Gosh.' It was shocking," she said.

The incident would raise eyebrows anywhere. But this is Utah, conservative bastion and home of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. No wonder it's being viewed as an embarrassment as well as an outrage. Some also worry about the message it sends.

"This escapade flies in the face of progress in the military and sends out this archaic message to girls and to women that their true value lies in their body parts," Seelig said. "Apparently, the Guard's so-called security protocols aren't robust enough to keep a bunch of calendar girls and their crew and assorted groupies off a military base."

Maj. Gen. Jeff Burton, the Utah National Guard's top commander, told lawmakers the actions were "a total violation of the values we espouse." He added of the men involved: "I'm also very concerned about them and their personal state of mind that would have allowed them to do something like this."

In what the news media here have dubbed the "salacious swimsuit calendar scandal," the Utah National Guard is investigating the video, which officials say was partially filmed at the Camp Williams training facility 25 miles south of Salt Lake City. The men involved — including combat veterans and Purple Heart recipients — face the possibility of fines, demotions or forced retirements.

"Productions of this kind are not in keeping with the values of the Utah National Guard nor its members," the agency said in a statement. Other scenes were filmed at a gun club called the Big Shot Ranch.

A separate Utah state police inquiry is examining two uniformed special operations members who officials said took part in the filming and who also supplied three state-owned guns for props. "Two good officers who made a poor decision," said Capt. Doug McCleve, a Utah Department of Public Safety spokesman.

Seelig, who sits on the Executive Appropriations Committee that has some oversight of the Utah National Guard, said lawmakers would closely monitor both investigations.

Guard officials said the men were told proceeds from the calendar's sale would go to the Wounded Warriors Fund. The British producers did not respond to requests for comment.

The five-minute video features a guitar-screaming backbeat as scantily-clad models fire such weapons as a Glock-18 pistol and M-4 rifle. One model fires a blast from an M134 Minigun, capable of releasing 6,000 rounds a minute, and says, simply, "Sick."

Another rides on a personnel carrier, proclaiming, "I want my own tank."

And another: "We've got loads of tanks, boats, helicopters and, of course, loaded guns." She adds: "Yeah!"

McCleve said a high-ranking Utah Highway Patrol commander was riding his stationary bike at home when he saw local news reports of the video.

"He saw girls in bikinis and said, 'The Guard has a story here,'" McCleve said. "Then he saw two guys helping the girls on the firing line. They were wearing our uniforms. And he knew both of them."

Robert Voyles is the director of the Ft. Douglas Military Museum, where models posed before two Vietnam War-era helicopters. "The models got inside the choppers," he said. "They sat in the cockpit."

Arlo Johnson, a museum docent, said he was told the women would wear bikinis, "but that it would be no worse than a Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition."

He said the incident was blown out of proportion: "It's election season in an ultra-conservative state. Pinups have been part of the military since the Civil War, from foxholes to barracks."

Seelig has received letters from around the nation criticizing her stance.

"There have been three kinds of critics: The first type says, 'Oh, shut up. Boys will be boys.' The second kind say, 'You're just jealous; you want to be on a calendar.' And the third type says, 'You're just an uptight Utah Mormon worried about people showing skin.'"

She added: "The funny thing is I'm not Mormon and I'm not even from Utah. I was born in Kentucky."


Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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Federal appeals court upholds 4 states' gay marriage bans

A federal appeals court panel in Ohio upheld four states' bans on gay marriage Thursday, setting the stage for the Supreme Court to rule finally on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage.

The ruling by the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals is the first by a federal appellate court to formally deny gay couples a right to marry. It follows a year in which federal judges across the nation repeatedly ruled that since marriage is a fundamental right, states had no justification for denying marriage to gays and lesbians.

Judge Jeffrey Sutton, writing for a 2-1 majority, said the issue should be decided in the political arena, not in the courts. The opinion upheld bans on gay marriage in Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee.

"Better in this instance, we think, to allow changes through the customary political processes, in which the people, gay and straight alike … [meet] as fellow citizens seeking to resolve a new social issue in a fair-minded way," he wrote.

"We must keep in mind that something can be fundamentally important without being a fundamental right under the Constitution. Otherwise, state regulations of many deeply important subjects — from education to healthcare to living conditions to decisions about when to die — would be subject to unforgiving review. They are not," he added.

In dissent, Judge Martha Daughtrey retorted that Sutton's opinion "would have made an engrossing TED talk, or possibly an introductory lecture in political philosophy," but said it failed to address the legal question of whether a ban on same-sex marriage violated equal protection under the Constitution.

If judges can't address perceived wrongs put in place by the voting majority, she wrote, "our whole intricate, constitutional system of checks and balances, as well as the oaths to which we swore, prove to be nothing but shams."

Last month, the Supreme Court refused to rule in cases from five states where judges had struck down the bans on gay marriage. Justices commented that since all the lower courts agreed, there was no need for their intervention.

Since then, advocates for both sides were focused on the pending ruling from the 6th Circuit Court, and Thursday's decision will probably lead to speedy appeals to the high court.

Under the Supreme Court's calendar, appeals that are ready by late January can be granted a review in the spring and decided by the end of the term in June. Otherwise, they are pushed back to the fall.

If gay rights advocates and state lawyers agree to move quickly on the appeals, they could have their cases ready by January.

Gay rights groups denounced the decision and called it an outlier.

"While a tidal wave of courts around the nation have struck down marriage bans, this decision leaves 6th Circuit states in a backwater and, worst of all, injures same-sex couples and their children," said Susan Sommer, director of constitutional litigation for Lambda Legal.

Michigan Atty. Gen. Bill Schuette, whose office argued before the panel to uphold the state's ban on gay marriage, welcomed the ruling and said he looked forward to a high court appeal.

"As I have stated repeatedly, the U.S. Supreme Court will have the final word on this issue. The sooner they rule, the better, for Michigan and the country," Schuette said.


Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times

4:07 p.m.: The story was updated throughout with new details and information.

The story was originally posted at 1:59 p.m.

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College football: What to watch Saturday on TV

Each week our national college football writer describes how he would handle the television remote on Saturday, handicapping what's worth watching, and skipping:


Presbyterian (5-4) at No. 11 Mississippi (7-2)

9 a.m., SEC Network

Presbyterian looks to rebound after last week's tough home loss to Liberty. The Blue Hose must be careful not to look past this schedule-filler game in advance of next week's huge Big South showdown at Gardner-Webb in Boiler Springs, N.C. Mississippi is reportedly also coming off a tough home loss, although getting updated news out of the Southeastern Conference is sketchy at best.

No. 12 Baylor (7-1) at No. 15 Oklahoma (6-2)

9 a.m., Fox Sports 1 (FS1)

Think of this as the warmup act for the Big 12 Conference game of the day, which is Kansas State at Texas Christian. Baylor still has hopes of defending its Big 12 crown, but doing so will require winning in Norman, Okla., for the first time. The Bears trail the Sooners in the schools' all-time football series, 21-2, but routed Oklahoma last year at home in Waco, Texas.

9 a.m.: Georgia at Kentucky, ESPN; Iowa at Minnesota, ESPN2; Texas San Antonio at Rice, FS West; Southern Methodist at Tulsa, CBS Sports Network; Wisconsin at Purdue, ESPNU; Penn State at Indiana, Big Ten Network.

9:30 a.m.: Georgia Tech at North Carolina State, KDOC.


Texas A&M (6-3) at No. 3 Auburn (7-1)

12:30 p.m., Channel 2

This carefully crafted SEC narrative will focus on how great of a game this would have been had it been scheduled in September. Texas A&M has gone into the dumpster since a 5-0 start, losing three straight SEC games and then scratching out a 21-16 win over Louisiana Monroe.

No. 10 Notre Dame (7-1) at No. 9 Arizona State (7-1)

12:30 p.m., Channel 7

Arizona State's five-spot jump in the rankings this week is believed to be the largest involving a win over a school from the state of Utah. Notre Dame remains in the top 10 despite allowing 82 points in its most recent wins against North Carolina and Navy.

Tennessee Martin (5-5) at No. 1 Mississippi State (8-0)

1 p.m., SEC

Brent Musburger reflects on the highs and lows of a remarkable career as he handles the play-by-play for a game involving the hottest team in the Ohio Valley Conference. Tennessee Martin has won four straight after a 1-4 start. If Musburger handles this assignment without messing up, there's a decent chance he'll earn Tennessee Martin's next game at Eastern Illinois.

No. 7 Kansas State (7-1) at No. 6 Texas Christian (7-1)

4:30 p.m., Channel 11

These Big 12 schools are back in the playoff chase after thinking they blew their chances. Kansas State committed three turnovers and missed field-goal attempts in a six-point home loss to Auburn; TCU somehow blew a 58-37 fourth-quarter lead against Baylor.

12:30 p.m.: Michigan at Northwestern, ESPN2; Iowa State at Kansas, FS West; Connecticut at Army, CBSSN; West Virginia at Texas, FS1; Pennsylvania at Princeton, NBC Sports Network; Tulane at Houston, ESPNU.

1 p.m.: Washington State at Oregon State, Pac-12 Networks.

3:30 p.m.: Virginia at Florida State, ESPN.

4 p.m.: Boise State at New Mexico, CBSSN; UCLA at Washington, FS1; Hawaii at Colorado State, ESPNU.

4:15 p.m.: Louisville at Boston College, ESPN2.

4:30 p.m.: Florida at Vanderbilt, SEC.


No. 5 Alabama (7-1) at No. 16 Louisiana State (6-2)

5 p.m., Channel 2

Counted out more times than a punch-drunk boxer, LSU has rallied from two early SEC defeats to make this a compelling matchup with national title implications. LSU needs a win over Alabama and some voodoo to make the four-team playoff; the Crimson Tide controls its own fate with remaining games against Mississippi State and Auburn.

No. 14 Ohio State (7-1) at No. 8 Michigan State (7-1)

5 p.m., Channel 7

Bo Schembechler might be spinning in his grave with the news Michigan State has replaced Michigan as Ohio State's Big Ten compelling competition partner. You'll know the rivalry has turned for good if Ohio State, which traditionally refuses to acknowledge Michigan by name, starts referring to Michigan State as "that team up North … West, we mean in Lansing, we mean northwest in East Lansing." Ah, forget it… Michigan, could you please get good again?

No. 4 Oregon (8-1) at No. 17 Utah (6-2)

7 p.m., ESPN

If this is Oregon's last big playoff hurdle, it's probably good the Ducks have receiver Devon Allen. He's the defending United States national champion in the 110-meter hurdles. Oregon's offensive line, which has improved greatly since horrific efforts against Washington State and Arizona, will be tested by a Utah defense that leads the nation in sacks.

5 p.m.: Colorado at Arizona, Pac-12.

7:30 p.m.: San Jose State at Fresno State, CBSSN.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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'Any Sunday' sequel rides in as energetic eye candy

Bruce Brown's 1971 Oscar-nominated documentary "On Any Sunday" celebrated motorcycle racers and enthusiasts (like Brown himself) in the immersive manner of his noteworthy surf movie, "The Endless Summer."

Now his son Dana (of "Step Into Liquid" fame), clearly intent on updating Dad's work, has directed and narrated "On Any Sunday: The Next Chapter," a high-energy sequel spotlighting two-wheel passion around the world, including motocross champs (James Stewart), daredevils (Robbie Maddison) and the international stars of the global MotoGP circuit (Marc Marquez).

The movie zips from place to race — the Bonneville Salt Flats, the Pikes Peak hill climb, a crazy off-road competition in Austria — with the attention span of someone over-juiced on Red Bull, whose logo is emblazoned everywhere because the company's media arm produced the movie. As lifestyle flicks go, it's energetic eye candy, with the Ultra HD slo-mo, slick aerial views and thumb-size cams putting a 21st century stamp on the original film's POV innovations.

But over-editing too often disrupts the flow of the more beautiful shots, and some engaging personalities, like deaf racer Ashley Fiolek, get short shrift in an effort to sell motorcycles as a community builder and even a tool for bringing healthcare to remote regions of Africa.

"Next Chapter" may not exhibit the scrappy charm that characterized the first film's glimpse into a marginalized but colorful world, but for devotees, Dana Brown has assembled a love letter to a now-global culture.

"On Any Sunday: The Next Chapter."

Rated PG for perilous action, crashes, brief language.

Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes.

Playing: AMC Burbank Town Center 8.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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Suspect in 4chan-linked murder case turns himself in to Oregon deputy

Written By kolimtiga on Kamis, 06 November 2014 | 12.56

A man suspected of killing his girlfriend in Washington state, posting photos of her corpse and describing the slaying online and then leading police in Oregon on a high-speed chase is in custody, police announced Wednesday night.

Shortly after the Portland Police Department surrounded a home where officers believed David Kalac, 33, of Port Orchard, Wash., might have been hiding, the department said the sighting in their city was false -- and that Kalac was in custody in a neighboring jurisdiction. The Clackamas County Sheriff's Department confirmed that Kalac had turned himself in to a deputy and was arrested by police in the suburb of Wilsonville. 

Earlier in the afternoon, Portland police announced that they found the gold Ford Focus that Kalac was believed to have been driving.

Amber Lynn Coplin, 30, was found dead in her Port Orchard apartment Tuesday afternoon when her teenage son arrived home, Kitsap County, Wash., Sheriff's Deputy Scott Wilson said.

However, before the son got to the apartment, photos of Coplin's nude body were posted on the Internet, including on the website 4chan, along with messages detailing the killing, Wilson said. 

A warrant was issued for Kalac's arrest.

"We have a strong reason to believe that he took those photographs after her death and put them on social media," Wilson said.

"Turns out its way harder to strangle someone to death than it looks on the movies," a user whom police believe to be Kalac posted Tuesday afternoon on 4chan. "She fought so Damn hard."

The user also detailed a plan to be killed by police.

"Her son will be home from school soon. He'll find her, then call the cops. I just wanted to share the pics before they find me. I bought a BB gun that looks realistic enough. When they come, I'll pull it and it will be suicide by cop," the user said in another post. "I understand the doubts. Just click the ... news. I have to lose my phone now."

Police in Portland were led on a high-speed chase early Wednesday after they spotted a person driving the victim's car, Portland police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson said. 

The driver got away after he swerved into oncoming traffic, Simpson said.

Wilson said Kalac has a lengthy criminal record and is considered armed and dangerous. 

Kalac was convicted in April of domestic violence against another woman, the Kitsap Sun reported Wednesday. 

Coplin and Kalac moved into the small apartment complex on Madrona Drive in the small town of Port Orchard in July from a nearby apartment, said next-door neighbor Marlene Fecto.

The two lived with Coplin's son and mainly kept to themselves, she said. 

Fecto said she was home around the time Coplin is believed to have been killed but that she didn't hear anything. She later went for a walk and when she came home saw Coplin's son standing outside their apartment as police arrived. 

"He was probably in shock if he went in and saw his mother completely naked sprawled out," Fecto said. "It is shocking for all of us."

Follow @jpanzar for breaking news.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times

9:23 p.m.: This post has been updated to add that David Kalac turned himself in.

9:05 p.m.: This post has been updated to add that Portland, Ore., police have surrounded a home and found the vehicle.

The first version of this post was published at 3:26 p.m.

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Boys' basketball: Westchester tournament is set to begin on Dec. 1

The Westchester tournament is set to begin on Dec. 1 and 2.

Opeing games include Westchester-King Drew; Hart-Morningisde; Beverly Hills-Washington; Bishop Montogomery-Rancho Dominguez on Dec. 1.

On Dec. 2, it's St. John Bosco-St. Bernard; Long Beach Poly-Peninsula; Taft-West Ranch; Serra-North Torrance.


Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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L.A. County team of monitors to oversee Fire Department hiring

The Board of Supervisors on Wednesday created a "strike team" of monitors to oversee hiring by the Los Angeles County Fire Department in response to a Times investigation that found a disproportionate number of relatives in the ranks and evidence of cheating in recruitment.

The supervisors' action will dramatically expand the role of outsiders in the department's hiring procedures, along the lines of reforms that Fire Chief Daryl Osby proposed in the wake of The Times' disclosures.

"We must ensure that all eligible candidates receive equal employment opportunity," Supervisor Gloria Molina said in the motion that led to Wednesday's unanimous vote, which requires the monitoring team to report weekly to the board.

Molina later said in a statement that the team would act as a "watchdog" over department recruitment. "I want a hiring process that is transparent, has integrity, and urgency," she said.

Last week, she called for stripping the Fire Department of its hiring authority entirely, but her colleagues said they were reluctant to go that far. As a compromise, the monitoring team won the backing of the full board as well as Osby and the firefighters' labor union.

The Times reported on Oct. 26 that the department's hiring, which is supposed to be based on merit, favored sons of firefighters. At least 183 sons of current or former firefighters and 187 other relatives have served in the department since the start of 2012, according to an analysis of payroll, pension, birth, marriage and other records.

In addition, The Times found evidence that insiders have tried to manipulate hiring. Lists of questions and suggested answers for formal applicant interviews have circulated freely through the department's station houses, even though they are supposed to be kept under lock and key. The interviews determine whether and when applicants win a spot in the fire academy.

As a result of The Times' report, county investigators are searching five years of department emails to identify any employees who might have shared the confidential interview material with relatives or other people seeking firefighting jobs, which are prized for their six-figure salaries and generous benefits.

The monitoring team will include officials from the County Equity Oversight Panel, which is made up of employment law experts; the county Human Resources Department; the County Counsel's Office; and representatives of the Fire Department and the union, Local 1014 of the International Assn. of Firefighters.

Molina said she decided not to push for a complete takeover of firefighter hiring by the county personnel office after Osby assured her that he was overhauling recruitment to guard against nepotism and cheating. She added that she wanted to act quickly because the department needed to fill 200 positions.

Osby told the board that the revamped examination of applicants "will be fair, it will be equitable, it will be accountable."

He said last week that the written test for applicants would no longer be a pass-fail exam; at least a portion of it would be competitively scored, and grading would be done outside the department. He said those changes would help the agency identify the best candidates.

The chief also has said that he wants to scrap a department lottery that might have kept some of the most qualified applicants from being selected to take the test.

In expressing his support for the monitoring team, Local 1014 President Dave Gillotte told the supervisors that he was "extremely proud to be part of one of the most brilliant and best fire departments in the world."

The department is one of the largest local fire agencies in the nation, with 2,750 firefighters, and draws applicants from across Southern California and beyond. Recruits can make more than $100,000 annually within a few years. After retirement, the firefighters receive yearly pension and health benefits that average more than $130,000, The Times found.

Since 2007, more than 12,600 people have applied to the department. About 740 were hired. That's 1 in 17 — a rejection rate of nearly 95%. If sons were hired at the same rate as other applicants, more than 3,000 of them — an improbably high number — would have had to apply to account for the 183 that The Times' analysis found in the ranks.

Osby and other department officials have said that sons could have a special motivation to work hard to follow in their fathers' footsteps. But they have acknowledged that sons and other relatives should have no practical advantage over applicants without family ties.

During the hiring regimen, the department does not test candidates for firefighting skills they could have learned from relatives, such as deploying hoses and ladders, the officials said. Those are taught in the academy.



Follow @pringleLATimeshttps://twitter.com/PringleLATimes and @sewellahttps://twitter.com/sewella for more news about L.A. County government

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Results mixed on California soda taxes, fracking, marijuana measures

Here is a breakdown of some big issues facing California cities and counties and how they fared in Tuesday's election:

Soda tax

Background: Measures were on the ballot in San Francisco and Berkeley to levy taxes on sodas and other sugary beverages that officials say contribute to health problems, including diabetes and obesity. The American Beverage Assn. contributed a total of $11 million to defeat both Bay Area proposals.

Outcome: Berkeley became the first city in the nation to approve such a law with 75% of voters backing Measure D, which will levy a penny-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages sold in the city. San Francisco's measure, which would have imposed a 2-cent-an-ounce tax, failed.

Analysis: Supporters of Berkeley's measure predicted that approval would set off a nationwide movement, much like the one waged against tobacco. But opponents contend that liberal Berkeley is unique and not representative of most U.S. cities. San Francisco's measure had a much higher bar to scale because it needed a two-thirds majority vote for approval. Although 54.5% of San Francisco voters backed the sugary-drink tax, it needed 66.67% to pass.


Background: Measures were on the ballot in Santa Barbara, San Benito and Mendocino counties to prohibit high-intensity petroleum operations, including hydraulic fracturing — the oil-extraction method known as fracking. Supporters said fracking could trigger earthquakes, pollute the aquifer and deplete groundwater supplies during droughts. Energy companies argued that such measures could seriously damage, if not wipe out, their operations.

Outcome: The measures were approved in San Benito and Mendocino counties, with 57.4% and 67.2% of the vote, respectively, but failed in Santa Barbara County, where 62.6% of voters said no to the proposed ban.

Analysis: Oil companies spent about $7.7 million to fight the measures in San Benito and Santa Barbara counties, putting most of their money into the latter. They said their success in Santa Barbara County showed that people realize the importance of the energy industry to the region and that the measure was a drastic approach to energy policy. Supporters of the San Benito County measure said they hoped the results would put pressure on Gov. Jerry Brown to impose a statewide ban on fracking.


Background: A number of medical marijuana initiatives were on county and city ballots around the state, proposing either restrictions or leniency on collectives and dispensaries. Two competing measures in Northern California's Lake County sought to overturn existing laws on marijuana cultivation. The city of Weed in Siskiyou County had two advisory measures on its ballot.

Outcome: Both Lake County measures were defeated, with 64% of voters opposing Measure O and 68% rejecting Measure P. Voters in Weed gave thumbs down to Measure L, asking if they would support more collectives and dispensaries in the city; they OKd Measure K, asking if they would support a citywide ban on outdoor medical marijuana cultivation, by a slim margin.

Analysis: Although voters in Oregon, Alaska and Washington, D.C., joined Colorado and Washington state this week in legalizing marijuana, California is not there yet. Instead, the issue is being played out at the local level, and the results appear to be mixed. Voters in La Mesa and Encinitas in San Diego County rejected measures that would have allowed medical marijuana dispensaries, while Santa Ana voters favored a measure to legalize medical marijuana collectives in the city.

Minimum wage

Background: Three cities — San Francisco, Oakland and Eureka — voted on minimum wage hikes designed to help workers make ends meet as the cost of living rises, especially in the expensive Bay Area.

Outcome: San Francisco and Oakland approved the increases and Eureka rejected its proposal. San Francisco's Measure J, which received 76% of the vote, will raise the current $10.74 an hour to $12.25 next May, $13 in July 2015 and a dollar a year until it reaches $15 in 2018. Oakland's Measure FF, passed with 81% of the vote, will raise the minimum wage from $9 to $12.25 an hour starting in March. Eureka's Measure R was voted down by 62% of the electorate; it would have raised the minimum wage from $9 an hour to $12.

Analysis: Several city councils in California are looking at raising the pay for low-wage workers struggling to support themselves and their families. Los Angeles is considering raising its minimum wage to $13.25 or $15.25. The San Francisco minimum wage hike comes as the city is booming thanks to the tech industry. But the economies in Oakland and Los Angeles are not quite as strong, and Eureka has been struggling for years. Generally, businesses oppose these hikes, saying they can't afford the added costs of paying their workers more.


Twitter: @amcovarrubias

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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Californians OK Proposition 2, on rainy day fund

Written By kolimtiga on Rabu, 05 November 2014 | 12.56

Proposition 2, to strengthen California's rainy day fund, has passed, AP reports.

A constitutional amendment with bipartisan support, the measure was placed on the ballot by the Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown.

Under the measure, state officials will be required to put aside at least 1.5% of the general fund every year.

Half of the money will be placed in a "rainy day" account as a safeguard against economic downturns. Half will be used to pay debt and other long-term obligations, such as retirement benefits for public workers.

Money may be withdrawn only when the governor and the Legislature declare a fiscal emergency.

California has an existing reserve account, but it's mostly been left empty since its creation a decade ago. Until now, there have been no strict rules on depositing or withdrawing funds.

Follow @chrismegerian for more updates from Sacramento.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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Tune out cable news and turn away fear

I miss the days when people would say "Bon voyage" to travelers heading off. Today, Americans instead say "Travel safely."

I travel a lot. In the last year or so I've been to Egypt, the West Bank, Israel, Turkey and Russia. My loved ones worry out loud: "Rick, do you think this is safe?" I always assure them, "As long as I'm not traveling through Chicago, I think I'll be OK."

After traveling and lecturing across the United States in recent months, it strikes me that our nation has never been so racked with fear. The paramount concern is "national security": the fear that apocalyptic forces outside America's borders — Islamic State, Ebola, immigrants from Latin America — will creep in and overwhelm us.

But the more I travel, the clearer it seems to me: Fear is for people who don't get out much. These people don't see the world firsthand, so their opinions end up being shaped by sensationalistic media coverage geared toward selling ads. Sadly, fear-mongering politicians desperate for your vote pile on too.

Commercial television news is hammering "the land of the brave" with scare tactics as never before. I believe the motivation is not to make us safer. It's to boost ratings to keep advertisers satisfied and turn a profit.

When Walter Cronkite closed the evening news by saying, "And that's the way it is," I believe that, to the best of journalists' knowledge, that really was the way it was. In those days, television networks were willing to lose money on their evening news time slot to bring us the news. It was seen as their patriotic duty as good corporate citizens.

But times have changed, and now corporations have a legal responsibility to maximize short-term profits for their shareholders. They've started sexing up, spicing up and bloodying up the news to boost ratings. And 24/7 news channels have to amp up the shrillness to make recycled news exciting enough to watch.

In a sense, news has become entertainment masquerading as news. Now an event is not news, it's a "crisis." Today it's Islamic State militants and Ebola. Last month, the greatest threat to civilization was apparently the National Football League turning a blind eye to domestic violence. Or was it racist cops? Or child immigrants at the Mexican border? Of course, these are serious issues. But hyping a news story as a "crisis" and lurching erratically from one to the next serves only to stir people up. Mix in negative political ads, and it can feel as if the world is falling apart.

The unhappy consequence: We end up being afraid of things we shouldn't be — and ignoring things that actually do threaten our society, such as climate change and the growing gap between rich and poor.

It seems that the most fearful people in our country are those who don't travel and are metaphorically barricaded in America. If we all stayed home and built more walls and fewer bridges between us and the rest of the world, eventually we would have something to actually be fearful of.

I've found that one partial solution is a simple one: travel.

The flip side of fear is understanding. And we gain understanding through travel. As you travel, you realize that we're just 300 million Americans in a much wider pool of 7 billion people. It's good for our national security to travel, to engage with the other 96% of humanity and gain empathy for people beyond our borders.

Don't let fear-mongering politicians and ratings-crazed news channels shape the way you see our world. Get out there and experience it for yourself. Bon voyage.

Rick Steves writes travel guidebooks and hosts the public television series "Rick Steves' Europe." The new edition of his book "Travel as a Political Act" is out this month.

Follow the Opinion section on Twitter @latimesopinion

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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Dodgers reportedly to hire Athletics' Farhan Zaidi as general manager

Oakland Athletics assistant general manager Farhan Zaidi will be named the Dodgers general manager, according to people familiar with the situation who spoke under the condition of anonymity because a formal announcement isn't expected to be made until later this week.

Zaidi, 37, has a bachelor's degree in economics from MIT and a doctorate in the same subject from UC Berkeley. His hiring should bolster the analytics program championed by Andrew Friedman, the team's new president of baseball operations.

Zaidi won't be the only major addition to Friedman's front office in the coming days, as the Dodgers would like for most of their major positions to be filled before the general managers' meetings in Arizona next week.

Josh Byrnes, the former general manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks and San Diego Padres, will be a senior executive.

The Dodgers are in talks with Padres scouting director Billy Gasparino, as well as former major league outfielder Gabe Kapler.

Gasparino could succeed the departed Logan White as scouting director. White moved to the Padres last month. Farm director De Jon Watson also left the Dodgers this off-season, to become the vice president of baseball operations for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Zaidi's move to the Dodgers comes as something as a surprise, if only because the Athletics have managed to retain most of their leading front office members in recent years. Zaidi worked with the Athletics under Billy Beane for the last 10 years.

Zaidi has a particularly unique background. He is of Pakistani descent and was born in Canada as the son of a British-educated engineer. He was raised mostly in the Philippines, where he played Little League, and is one of few Muslims in baseball.

Speaking to The Times this year, Zaidi said his fondness for the analytic side of baseball started to develop when he was in grade school and picked up a copy of "The Bill James Baseball Abstract" in a bookstore.

"I bought that book each year and I basically carried it around with me everywhere," Zaidi said. "Then I think the bookstore realized there was only one customer for the book and they stopped carrying it."

With the Athletics, Zaidi provided statistical analysis for evaluating players available on the free-agent and trade markets, as well as the draft. He played a major role in the Athletics' signing of Yoenis Cespedes in 2012.

He also assisted on arbitration cases and worked with the coaching staff to analyze scouting reports.

"Coming from economics and sort of my background in academia, I've developed a little bit of a contrarian nature," Zaidi said.

He said that was an asset in an Athletics' front office that included executives with diverse educational backgrounds.

"As a group we are less prone to just let assumptions stand and let opinions go unopposed," he said.

Zaidi is a firm believer in collaboration.

"Whether you're an analyst or whether you're a player-development instructor or whether you're a coach on the big league staff, there's no one vantage point that will lead you to every answer," he said. "So again, it comes back to the fact that it's a collaborative process.

"When you get to that place where everybody appreciates and knows that they don't have all the answers, that there's really a true exchange of information and it's not just going one way, that's sort of an atmosphere we've been able to cultivate. And I think that's part of the reason we've been successful."

Follow Dylan Hernandez on Twitter @dylanohernandez

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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Lakers close in on Phoenix Suns, 79-75, after third quarter

Suns 79 - Lakers 75 (end of third quarter)

Kobe Bryant gave the home crowd a scare in the third quarter, leaping over the first row of spectators, landing awkwardly after chasing a loose ball. The veteran guard showed he still has some hops in those 36-year old legs.

The Lakers played hard through the period, getting a boost from Carlos Boozer who scored eight (13 for the game). Bryant reached 25 points but shot just 8-24 (33.3%) from the field.

Isaiah Thomas continued to pester the Lakers, using his quickness to score 19 points with three steals.

The Lakers hurt themselves at the free throw line, missing 11 (18-29), in a close, four-point game.

Phoenix shot 41.4% from the field as a team; the Lakers hit 39.4%.

Suns 58 - Lakers 46 (halftime)

The Lakers stumbled in the second quarter, getting out-scored by 10 points. The team shot just 38.5% from the field (15-39) through 24 minutes, led by Kobe Bryant with 18.

The Suns got 15 points from Isaiah Thomas and 13 from Gerald Green, both off the bench, to push ahead by 12 at the half.

After a strong first quarter, Lin struggled in the second, sitting with three fouls. Jordan Hill, who had been a major offensive force the past two games, scored just four points -- all at the line.

The Suns shot 43.1% from the field and 92.3% from the line (12-13). The Lakers missed eight free throws in 20 attempts (60%), making up a significant portion of their halftime deficit.

Suns 26 - Lakers 24 (end of first quarter)

Jeremy Lin got off to a quick start, scoring eight points in just under 9 1/2 minutes, but the Suns closed out the first quarter with a two-point lead.

Kobe Bryant came on strong late in the period, adding nine points as the Lakers shot 44.4% from the field.

Either the Lakers played defense or the Suns struggled to hit shots. Phoenix hit just 35.7% from the field and 16.7% from three-point range (1-6).

Markieff Morris led the Suns with eight points.


The Lakers (0-4) get another crack at the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night at Staples Center, after losing in Phoenix last week, 119-99.

Ryan Kelly is expected to make his season debut after a pair of hamstring strains. The Lakers will play without Julius Randle (broken leg), Steve Nash (back) and Nick Young (thumb).

P.J. Tucker will be available for the Suns after a three-game DUI suspension.

For an in-depth breakdown, check out Preview: Lakers vs. Phoenix Suns.

Email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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The 'drone loan' and other surprising items at college libraries

Written By kolimtiga on Selasa, 04 November 2014 | 12.56

At the Colgate University Library you can check out the book "Predator: The Secret Origins of the Drone Revolution" by Richard Whittle, the book "The Thistle and the Drone: How America's War on Terror Became a Global War on Tribal Islam" by Akbar Ahmed, or skip the reading and just borrow a drone.

"Colgate University's library is among several around the country that offer what are known as 'drone loan' programs," writes Jeffrey R. Young at the Chronicle of Higher Education. The drones are equipped with a camera that can send video back to a computer. To check out a drone, students must undergo training, have a partner for spotting, and a good reason. "One of the first takers was a biology professor doing field research in Ethiopia," Young writes.

Another high-tech gadget college libraries are adding to their collections is Google Glass. Claremont Colleges, CU Boulder, North Carolina State Universities and Yale University have all made Google Glass available to their communities in one way or another. In North Carolina, researchers could request Google Glass; Claremont  and CU Boulder students and professors were invited to submit short-term proposals for research, teaching and learning; Yale emphasized collaborative projects.

Young writes that another tech item patrons can get at college libraries these days isn't as flashy as a computer embedded in a set of glasses or a flying drone, but it's more essential: juice. Power cords and adapters are certainly needed by college students and, a staffer at George Tech's library points out, "not terribly expensive." 

Desktops have long been available at college libraries, but now students are regularly able to borrow laptops, tablets and netbooks, too. 

What some college students might need even more than those personal computing devices is a room-cleaning robot like the Roomba.

 Book news and more; I'm @paperhaus on Twitter

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Tuesday's TV Highlights: 'MasterChef Junior' on Fox

Customized TV Listings are available here: www.latimes.com/tvtimes

Click here to download

TV listings for the week of Nov. 2 - 8, 2014 in PDF format

This week's TV Movies


MasterChef Junior Alexander Weiss, who won the first season of this spin-off competition, greets 16 young chefs with "mystery box" of his favorite ingredients to use in their own recipes in the season premiere of this cooking competition. 8 p.m. Fox

30 for 30 Cuban half-brothers became major league pitchers. 8 p.m. ESPN2

Supernatural The actors, writers and producers celebrate the 10th season in this retrospective episode. 9 p.m. KTLA

Makers Hillary Rodham Clinton, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass), Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and former Rep. Shirley Chisholm (D-N.Y.) are among the women in politics recognized in this new episode. 9 p.m. KOCE

The Offseason: Kevin Durant This new unscripted program from HBO offers a first-person chronicle of the NBA superstar's off season. 10 p.m. HBO


2014 Midterm Elections Voter turnout and election returns will be covered as breaking news throughout the day and into the night on many cable and broadcast outlets, along with in depth coverage beginning at 3 p.m. on Fox News and MSNBC. 4 p.m. CNN. 5 p.m. Fox Business; CSPAN. 7 p.m. KCBS; KABC. 8 p.m. KOCE; CNN; 10 p.m. KCBS; KNBC; KABC.

Democalypse 2014: America Remembers It Forgot to Vote Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert offer their own brand of election coverage. 11 p.m. Comedy Central

Marvel: 75 Years, From Pulp to Pop! Emily VanCamp hosts this look at the company's history, from its first comic books to its current multimedia success. 9 p.m. ABC


CBS This Morning Jim Boeheim. (N) 7 a.m. KCBS

Today Jennifer Lopez; Donald Trump; Felicity Jones; Curtis Stone; Chris Hardwick; Michelle Williams. (N) 7 a.m. KNBC

Good Morning America Matthew McConaughey; Wendie Malick, Valerie Bertinelli and Jane Leeves. (N) 7 a.m. KABC

Good Day L.A. Sammy Hagar; Michael Chiklis ("American Horror Story"); Marissa Jaret Winokur. (N) 7 a.m. KTTV

Live With Kelly and Michael Matthew McConaughey ("Interstellar"); Felicity Jones ("The Theory of Everything"). (N) 9 a.m. KABC

The View Author Martin Short; John Leguizamo. (N) 10 a.m. KABC

The Dr. Oz Show Wendy Williams; how restaurants handle food. (N) 10 a.m. KCOP; 2 p.m. KTTV

The Doctors A woman loses 120 pounds through hypnosis; surgical scars. (N) 11 a.m. KCAL

The Wendy Williams Show Kelly Ripa; Patricia DiMango, Tanya Acker and Larry Bakman ("Hot Bench"). (N) 11 a.m. KTTV

The Talk Daniel Radcliffe; Juno Temple; Brooke Anderson; Kris Jenner. 1 p.m. KCBS

Rachael Ray Tom Bergeron ("America's Funniest Home Videos"); Daisy Fuentes; chef Ryan Scott. (N) 1 p.m. KABC

The Queen Latifah Show Kate Walsh ("Bad Judge"); Lamorne Morris ("New Girl"). (N) 2 p.m. KCBS

The Meredith Vieira Show Singer Jewel; Olympic figure skaters Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski. (N) 2 p.m. KNBC

Dr. Phil Parents enable three twentysomething women who are all hooked on heroin. (N) 3 p.m. KCBS

Steve Harvey Mark Harmon, Pauley Perrette and Sean Murray ("NCIS"). (N) 3 p.m. KNBC

The Ellen DeGeneres Show Viola Davis; Ella Henderson performs. (N) 4 p.m. KNBC

Tavis Smiley Author Matt Bai; Kandace Springs. (N) 11 p.m. KOCE

Charlie Rose (N) 11 p.m. KVCR; 11:30 p.m. KOCE; 1 a.m. KLCS

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Reince Priebus. (N) 11 p.m. Comedy Central

Conan Dr. Phil; Joshua Jackson; PHOX performs. (N) 11 p.m. TBS

The Colbert Report Andrew Sullivan. (N) 11:30 p.m. Comedy Central

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon Savannah Guthrie and Matt Lauer; Felicity Jones. (N) 11:34 p.m. KNBC

Late Show With David Letterman Jessica Chastain; Lenny Marcus; Foo Fighters perform. 11:35 p.m. KCBS

Jimmy Kimmel Live Maya Rudolph; Michael Chiklis; Kenny Chesney performs. (N) 11:35 p.m. KABC

Late Night With Seth Meyers Martin Short; Coco Rocha; Simon Rich. (N) 12:36 a.m. KNBC

The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson Zoe Saldana; J. Miller. 12:37 a.m. KCBS

Nightline (N) 12:37 a.m. KABC

Last Call: Carson Daly Megan Amram; the Melvins perform; "Dataclysm." (N) 1:37 a.m. KNBC

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers look like themselves again

Tom Brady was kaput as New England's quarterback. He was so used up at age 37 — especially after a 27-point loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 4 — that talk radio in Boston and beyond crackled with suggestions the Patriots should trade him.

The Pittsburgh Steelers were history too. They were so erratic during their 3-3 start that their offensive coordinator cringed when he was recognized in public.

In a testament to the wild unpredictability of the NFL, Brady is back to his record-breaking form and fresh off a 43-21 rout of the mighty Denver Broncos, and the Steelers have won three in a row, including blowouts of the Indianapolis Colts and Baltimore Ravens in consecutive weeks.

While the doubters recede back into the shadows, the second half of the season has begun with some sense of familiar order restored: The Patriots and Steelers are once again among the league's best teams.

Said Brady: "It's a lot of guys working hard who believe in each other, have confidence in each other and then when you get your one day a week to go out there, you go out there and you let it rip."

It wasn't so long ago that some Patriots fans were letting it rip, airing their displeasure with the quarterback who has led the franchise to five of the past 13 Super Bowls.

Scott Zolak, a former backup quarterback to Drew Bledsoe in New England and now a color analyst for the team's flagship radio station, said the water-cooler chatter of trading Brady — perhaps to the Houston Texans for a first-round pick or two — was "ridiculous."

"I thought it was embarrassing," Zolak said. "Reporters were asking [Coach] Bill Belichick, 'Are you going to reevaluate your quarterback position this week?'… The sky was falling around here."

The sky was falling, and now the records are. Brady threw for 333 yards and four touchdowns against the Broncos, giving him 51,541 yards for his career and moving him past Hall of Famer John Elway (51,475) for the fifth-most passing yards in NFL history.

And the people who had written off Brady and the Patriots?

"We never listened to it," receiver Brandon LaFell said. "We just kept doing what we do — make plays, continue to work our butt off and continue to believe in each other. And eventually, it started to click."

The Steelers know the feeling. They had some flashes of offensive brilliance early — 27 points in the first two quarters of the opener against the Cleveland Browns; 37 points at Carolina against the Panthers in Week 3 — and some real stinkers, including one offensive touchdown per game against the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Browns in consecutive weeks.

That has improved dramatically in recent weeks, with Ben Roethlisberger throwing six touchdown passes in a victory over red-hot Indianapolis in Week 8, then throwing six more in Sunday night's win over Baltimore. That's an NFL record for touchdown passes in consecutive games.

For those keeping score, in the past three games — home victories over Houston, Indianapolis and Baltimore — the Steelers have scored 124 points in 180 minutes.

Eight of the past nine times they have ventured into the red zone, the Steelers have come away with a touchdown.

"I think everybody has a part in it," rookie receiver Martavis Bryant told reporters Sunday. "Everybody looks at their game. Everybody works hard in practice. And everybody takes more emphasis in the red zone. So it's just a whole team thing. Everybody is just working."

Antonio Brown (eight touchdowns) is the star receiver in a Pittsburgh offense that's ranked third in total yards, and the Steelers have a ground game that's led by bruisers Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount.

Another change from earlier in the season is that the Steelers are increasingly less reliant on their no-huddle offense. They used it only briefly in each of the past two games. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley said it's good to have the no-huddle in the toolbox, but he doesn't want to build the entire offense with that as the foundation.

The Steelers' early struggles had Haley appreciating anonymity off the field. That's why he enjoyed Halloween, when he dressed up as Batman, and his wife, Chrissy, was Catwoman.

"She had a mask on, there was no way to tell who I was, so we had a great time," Haley said. "We could have stayed out all night. I had a lot of Jokers who wanted to pose with me because it was such a good costume, and I thought, 'If they only knew who they were really posing with.'"

Those Jokers sure wouldn't mind now.


Twitter: @LATimesfarmer

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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Hidden code of two great composers deciphered

The propriety of projecting a composer's personal life onto how we hear and perform the music goes through fads. Half a century ago, the Bay Area was home to Apollonian musicologists who prized structural analysis and dismissed biography as gossip.

We live now in an era where symphonies are valued as coded narrative, where centuries-old opera is related to modern life. And the Bay Area happened to be the place to be last weekend for remarkable revelations about the inner nature of two great composers, Mahler and Handel.

Saturday night, at a Davies Hall lighted up in Giants' orange and black and decorated with images from the Day of the Dead, Michael Tilson Thomas led the San Francisco Symphony in a startlingly triumphant performance of Mahler's least-performed and least-understood symphony, the nocturnal and seemingly crazy Seventh.

The following afternoon, San Francisco Opera presented a psychologically and sexually discerning production of one of Handel's rarest and most oddball operas, "Partenope," at War Memorial Opera House.

The confusion over Mahler's symphony begins with its epic, tortured progress from death to glory. Mahler had followed this path before but never in so peculiar a way. The five-movement score, nicknamed "Song of the Night," begins with creepy funereal intimations, progresses through spookily seductive "night-music" dalliances and ends with psychotically over-the-top optimistic music.

For Tilson Thomas, getting what could well have been the most rapturous playing ever from the San Francisco Symphony, that seeming irreconcilable Finale became a meaningful and personal grotesquerie.

In the movement, Mahler transforms the grandiose theme that opens Wagner's opera, "Die Meistersinger," a symbol of all that is noble and good in German art, into an emotional handball to be thrown against different harmonic walls and see what happens to it.

Born Jewish but converted to Catholicism to further his career in anti-Semitic Vienna, Mahler pollutes the "Meistersinger" theme with episodes of vaguely Jewish-sounding dance music, which Tilson Thomas wondrously exaggerated. He relished the harmonic adventure and turned grotesqueries into effusive and overpowering celebration.

The result was as though Beckmesser — the bender of rules who Wagner belittles in his opera and gives Jewish attributes — were dancing on Wagner's grave.

Pierre Boulez has probed Mahler's proto-Modernism in this symphony. Leonard Bernstein uniquely captured its unsettled cultural ferocity. Gustavo Dudamel, in a new recording, makes a case for symphonies as inherently untamable.

Tilson Thomas, though, makes the symphony the revenge of the Thomashefskys. The grandson of these stars of the Yiddish theater, Tilson Thomas is the first to get at this core inner dramatic and psychological essence of the Seventh.

"Partenope," the 27th of Handel's 49 operas, is more crazy stuff. The queen Naples, Partenope, loves her fiancé, Arsace, who is also betrothed to Rosmira, who disguises herself as Eurimene and pretends to love Partenope and fights Emilio, who also loves Partenope, who winds up marrying Armindo.

Christopher Alden's production turns all of this into a Paris salon of Surrealists in the 1920s, with Partenope its hostess. Emilio, like Man Ray, photographs everything. Ormonte, the only one who doesn't appear to love anyone, looks like the composer Erik Satie. The others are hard to place.

The point of making the characters Surrealists is mainly because Surrealists were open to letting emotions be emotions, not necessarily tied to cause and effect. By freeing Handel's opera from its conventional narrative, Alden is also free to directly reveal how subversively Handel makes them compellingly real.

The composer's arias are a compendium of emotional states built around the confusion and insecurities of love and relationships. Alden lets loose those emotions in extravagant ways that call for and get an unusually versatile and accomplished cast, despite the tame though gracious conducting by Julian Wachner.

At one extreme, Armindo, the countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo, sings while crawling up and falling down stars, while swinging by his hands and while tap dancing. At the other, Arsace, the countertenor David Daniels in a stirring slow aria, all but maps his id while putting on a shoe.

The most theatrical moment for Emilio, tenor Alek Shrader, is singing while locked in a bathroom and trying to escape through a perilously high window. The most outrageous getup is that of Ormonte, bass Philippe Sly, in elaborate red Victorian gown.

And then there is Partenope, in this instance soprano Danielle de Niese as the hostess with the mostess starved for attention. She has sparkling, gorgeous arias. Unlike the others (excepting the bemused Ormonte), she remains mostly unflappable just so long as someone desires her.

De Niese, a Coco Chanel of a Partenope, reigns over this show in high style and high spirits. She has a tendency to telegraph every little expression, but here that seems just right. She may be wronged by Arsace (who, in the end, returns to Rosmira), but her fickleness is stronger than her affections, and yet it is Handel's genius that she wins our affections in doing so.

In the program note, Alden brings up the issue of Handel's sexuality. Circumstantial evidence implies that he could have been gay, and that could explain what contributed to making him so subversive a composer. His operas present psychological and sexual states that can be read different ways. By being ultimately unknowable, he remains ever intriguing and germane.

Partenope, in this exceptional production, is the character we are most drawn to yet remains a mystery. She's Handel.

Follow me on Twitter: @markswed

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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Su'a Cravens knee injury not severe, says USC's Steve Sarkisian

Written By kolimtiga on Senin, 03 November 2014 | 12.56

An MRI exam of USC linebacker Su'a Cravens injured right knee showed "nothing structurally wrong," and the sophomore will work to be available for the Trojans Nov. 13 game against California, Coach Steve Sarkisian said Sunday.

Cravens was injured Saturday during the second quarter of USC's 44-17 victory at Washington State. He was on crutches after the game and underwent an MRI exam Sunday.

"He's sore, obviously," Sarkisian said during a teleconference with reporters. "How quickly he can come back from this, we'll see.

"We're going to do everything in our power, and I know he's going to do everything in his power to get as healthy as he can get for next Thursday night."

USC announced Saturday that Cravens had suffered a sprain but that he would undergo further tests upon the team's return to Los Angeles. Asked after the game if he was initially fearful that the injury was serious, Cravens said, "Yeah. I don't like getting hurt."

Cravens is one of several players the Trojans hope will return for Cal after this weekend's open date.

Linebacker J.R. Tavai suffered a knee sprain against Utah, and fullback Soma Vainuku and receiver Ajene Harris have been sidelined for several games because of hamstring injuries.

Defensive end Leonard Williams has played through shoulder issues the entire season.

To facilitate healing and physical and mental rest, the Trojans will not practice until Saturday.

They finish the season against Cal and rivals UCLA and Notre Dame.

"We need a chance to regroup, reenergize and come out and play three really good football games here coming out of the bye," Sarkisian said. "I'm just trying to push all the right buttons to make that happen."

Going long

The 87-yard touchdown pass play that USC quarterback Cody Kessler and receiver Nelson Agholor connected on against Washington State was a career-long for both.

"Great call by the coaching staff," Agholor said after the game. "I think they felt like those guys were going to corner blitz and I get to run a post [route] on a safety who was a little undisciplined.

"He wasn't in the right position, and Cody gave me a shot."

Kessler had overthrown a long pass the previous week against Utah and, when he passed to a wide-open Agholor, thought he might have done it again.

"The wind was in my face, so I tried to put a little more on it," Kessler said. "I thought it was too much and, luckily, Nelson has that instinct."

Kessler and Agholor have connected for eight touchdowns this season.

High marks for Lobendahn

Freshman Toa Lobendahn drew praise after his first start at left tackle.

Lobendahn started the first eight games at left guard. He moved to tackle in the wake of Chad Wheeler's season-ending knee injury.

"Proud of Toa stepping out there and doing a tremendous job," Sarkisian said Sunday.

Redshirt freshman Khaliel Rodgers started for the first time at left guard and also "did a great job," Sarkisian said.

Quick hits

Though victory was already in hand, Sarkisian acknowledged that he was "very aware" tailback Javorius Allen needed yardage in the fourth quarter to reach 100 yards rushing. Allen played until just more than three minutes remained and finished with 114 yards, becoming the first Trojans player to rush for at least 100 yards in six consecutive games since Marcus Allen in 1981. Sarkisian said it was a well-deserved honor for Javorius Allen and the teammates who helped him achieve it .… Asked if suspended Josh Shaw's situation was at a point where the cornerback was definitely not going to return this season, Sarkisian said no. "It hasn't gotten to a point where I've had to make a decision one way or the other, unfortunately," he said.


Twitter: @latimesklein

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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Duke University evaluating potential Ebola patient; risk downplayed

A patient who entered the United States from Liberia on Friday was in isolation at Duke University Hospital in Durham after developing a fever and was being tested for Ebola, North Carolina state health authorities announced Sunday night.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services emphasized that the patient, who was not identified, had no known exposure to Ebola and no other symptoms besides the fever. They said the patient's blood sample would be tested Monday at a state-run health laboratory.

The patient also is being tested to determine other possible causes of the fever, health authorities said.

"The patient will remain in a contained, isolated and secured unit until the results of testing are known," the department said in a statement. "These precautions are being taken based on the patient's recent travel from Liberia."

The risk to the public is extremely low, the health department said.

"Ebola is not spread through the air, water or food – or simply by being near an infected person," the department's statement said. "Ebola is only spread through unprotected contact with blood or body fluids from an infected person who has symptoms, or with objects like needles that have been contaminated with the virus."

The World Health Organization estimates that nearly 5,000 people have died of Ebola in the latest outbreak, which has been traced back to December. Most cases have been in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

The first person diagnosed on U.S. soil was a Liberian man, Thomas Eric Duncan, who arrived in Dallas Sept. 20 and became ill days later. He was hospitalized Sept. 28 and died Oct. 8. Two nurses who treated him contracted the virus, and both have been cured.

An American doctor with Ebola is being treated at Bellevue Hospital Center in New York after becoming ill Oct. 23. Dr. Craig Spencer, 33, had volunteered with Doctors Without Borders in Guinea. His doctors said Saturday that he was stable and responding well to treatment. 

At least four other Americans, including two doctors, a missionary and a freelance journalist, have contracted the virus in West Africa and received treatment in the U.S. All have been cured. Duncan is the only Ebola victim to die in the U.S.

National nervousness about the disease has led to several false alarms across the U.S., with subsequent tests showing the patients did not have Ebola. Another scare occurred Friday in Oregon, where a woman was hospitalized. Officials said Saturday that she is at low-risk for Ebola. 

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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Football: Festivities begin for East L.A. Classic

Players from Garfield and Roosevelt got together on Sunday at Steve's Steak House in Commerce for the annual Beef Bowl as part of festivities for the 80th East Los Angeles Classic.

The game is set for Friday night at East L.A. College.

Garfield is 7-2 and 5-0 in the Eastern League.

Roosevelt is 5-4 and 3-2.

Don't anyone think Roosevelt is just going to show up and lose because it's the underdog. The underdog in this game is always most dangerous.

But Garfield, led by versatile quarterback Stevie Williams (no, he doesn't own the steak restaurant), is trying to solidify its position for the City Section Division I playoffs.


Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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SpaceShipTwo's tail lifted early, NTSB crash investigation finds

Just before SpaceShipTwo broke apart in midair Friday, killing one test pilot and injuring the other, the tail lifted prematurely after the co-pilot unlocked a lever, the leader of the National Transportation Safety Board said Sunday night.

The lever was supposed to be unlocked at Mach 1.4, allowing an action called "feathering" -- which lifts the tail up to slow descent and create drag.  Instead, the lever was unlocked at Mach 1.0, NTSB Acting Chairman Christopher Hart told reporters. Furthermore, he said, a second lever was supposed to trigger feathering, but that lever was not pulled.

Hart emphasized that this was not necessarily the cause of the crash in the desert about 20 miles northeast of Mojave. The investigation is to continue Monday, and he has said a final report could take as long as year.

NTSB investigators found the plane's fuel tanks, oxidizer tanks and engine Sunday among the wreckage, Hart said. All those parts were intact, with no signs of having burned through or of being breached, he said.

Also on Sunday, Virgin Galactic's chief executive said the company was planning to finish work on a second rocket plane by year's end.

"The second spaceship is very advanced in its construction," George Whitesides said. "We need to work closely with the NTSB … to work out as rapidly as we can what happened, and then to move forward. We're hopeful we can make rapid progress."

Friday's test flight of SpaceShipTwo was the first time it was to fly by firing a new rocket motor using a plastic-based fuel – leading to speculation that the engine may have been a factor in the crash.

Until May, SpaceShipTwo had used a different motor that burned a rubber-based fuel.

Whitesides said he couldn't talk about the accident during the investigation. When asked if the company would continue testing the new engine on the ground, he said, "I think the short answer is 'yes.'"

The engine had passed ground tests before Friday's flight that satisfied engineers who determined it was "qualified" to be tested in flight. That process, he said, involved "a small number of firings in a row to make sure you get the same result."

"We have qualified the engine that we were putting into flight tests," he said. "I'm sure that we will continue that work."

He added, "As we've always said, we expect to continue to improve all our systems as time goes on just like any manufacturer would."

In a statement released Sunday, Virgin Galactic said "no one wants to know more than we do" what happened on Friday.

"We are dedicated to opening the space frontier, while keeping safety as our 'North Star,'" the statement said. "This has guided every decision we have made over the past decade, and any suggestion to the contrary is categorically untrue. ... Everything we do is to pursue the vision of accessible and democratized space – and to do it safely."

Whiteside said Virgin Galactic had spent $500 million so far in its quest to fly tourists into space. The company had insurance, he said, that would help cover the cost of Friday's crash.

Test pilot Michael Alsbury, 39, died in the crash. His body was found near the fuselage of the main wreckage, authorities said. 

Surviving pilot Peter Siebold, 43, suffered a shoulder injury and was "alert and talking with his family and doctors" on Saturday, according to Scaled Composites, the company that designed SpaceShipTwo.

Times staff writer Petersen reported from Mojave and Raab from Los Angeles.

Follow @MelodyPetersen and @raablauren on Twitter

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times

9:24 p.m.: This post has been updated to include comments from NTSB Acting Chairman Christopher Hart.

8:11 p.m.: This post has been updated to include comments from Virgin Galactic.

The first version of this post was published at 1:39 p.m.

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